April 27, 2009

Man dies, one is resuced in Mississippi River accident

A man exploring an urban tunnel near the Mississippi River was pronounced dead Sunday after being trapped by incoming rain water, another man survived.

According to the Star Tribune, Ian William Talty, 30, of Woodbury, died despite a frantic rescue effort by a St. Paul police officer and several students from the nearby University of St. Thomas, said St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard.

Nicholas Breid, 29, was exploring with Talty and was able to swim ashore and call for help. His screams were heard by several University of St. Paul students working at a nearby boat house who immediately called authorities.

"They were done with their work when they heard the yells," said Doug Hennes, a St. Thomas spokesman. "They couldn't see the person ... but they ran down, got the boats out and away they went."

One student, Danielle Assie, explains their actions.

"Jim and I were in one boat and a St. Paul police officer got in the launch [boat] with us," Assie told the St. Thomas Web-based publication Bulletin Today. "We went up and down the river a couple of times looking for anything ... the third time, Jim saw a backpack floating in the river."

Talty was found 500 yards from the initial scene. After multiple rounds of CPR he was brought to Hennepin County Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. An official autopsy has yet to remain.

University Students Riot in Dinkytown

Spring Jam is a weekend that many University of Minnesota students look forward to all year long. All day parties and a free concert is among most of the popular events, but this year a new addition has been made to the list - rioting.

A block party that had begun earlier in the day began to escalate Saturday evening causing the Minneapolis police to react with force. A large bonfire was starting from tree branches in the middle of the street and several students were seen trying to flip over a car.

Officers first responded to the scene around 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. and met partygoers throwing bottles and rocks, Minneapolis police Sgt. Jesse Garcia said in an interview with the Minnesota Daily.

As well as using pepper spray and tear gas, six students were brought to the ground and tied up before being put under arrest.

"I was focusing my camera when after 20 seconds, without any warning, I felt something like a baseball hit me in the groin and dropped to my knees," university student Peter Robbins said in an interview with the Star Tribune. "The next thing I knew, there were guys on top of me, smashing me into the ground, putting zip ties on my wrists and throwing me in a van."

Witnesses say that over 400 students were in attendance through out the course of the night. Many left with minor cuts and bruises but no one was seriously injured.

April 20, 2009

Bloomington Sex Offender Missed During Background Check

A convicted sex offender with a criminal background had apparently slipped through the cracks during a background check done by Bloomington school system.

Randy Lee Ronning, 36, was charged last week of sexually assaulting two young girls at a Bloomington Days Inn where he was babysitting.

According to the Star Tribune, police talked to one girl who said Ronning touched her inappropriately, while a second said that Ronning, her longtime babysitter, had molested her since she was 8 years old.

Ronning worked as a school bus aid helping disabled children on and off of their buses. He also helped coach floor hockey in 2008 as well as softball in 2006.

"Things like this will drive you to change things," Schulze said in prior interview with the Star Tribune. "It's very shocking something, like this. We can't stay as comfortable as we've been."

Ronning was convicted of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual assault.

Iranian President Feels North Dakotan Journalist Deserves Full Defense

An Iranian-American journalist from Fargo convicted of espionage against Iran has been giving the ability to defend herself in Iranian court preceding.

Roxana Saberi, 31, was arrested in January for the petty charge of purchasing alcohol, which proceeded to working in Iran with an expired permit was later transformed into charges of espionage and sentenced to 8 years in prison.

The Star Tribune wrote that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a letter to Tehran's chief prosecutor instructing him to personally ensure that "suspects be given all their rights to defend themselves" against the charges. "Prepare for the court proceedings ... to observe and apply justice precisely," the state news agency IRNA quoted him as saying.

The letter came as a sign to the US that President Ahmadinejad does not want this case to spoil future working conditions with the Obama administration.

As reported by the BCC, a spokesman said the US president was "deeply disappointed" at the outcome.

Saberi is the first Iranian-American to be convicted of espionage in Iran and claims she was "coerced and deceived" by Iranian authorities.

April 13, 2009

A second crest expected in Fargo

The Red River is expected to rise once again in parts of northern North Dakota.

The crest has been predicted to rise up to 38 or 40 feet later this week. That spike is expected Thursday, Friday or Saturday, said hydrologist Mike DeWeese in an interview with the Star Tribune. "We're hopeful that it will remain on the lower end," DeWeese said. "We'll take a closer look" today and revise the projection as needed.

Residents are preparing for the event by continuing to sandbag and even evacuation certain situations. However, many officials are staying optimistic.

It is unusual to have two independent crests in a single spring flood season, DeWeese said.

According to a flood update in the Inforum, about 250 vounteers turned out at Minnesota State Community and Technical College-Moorhead this morning to help fill sandbags, but officials there say they could use another 250 volunteers. Volunteers should report to the college, park on the south side and register as a volunteer inside.

Search Still on for Missing St. Thomas Student

The search continues for an University of St. Thomas freshman who has been missing since early morning of April 5th.

19-year-old Dan Zamlen was last heard from walking along the Mississippi River bluffs from St. Thomas to the University of Minnesota after leaving a party.

According to the Star Tribune, friends and family have been gathering at the local church where Zamlen thought classes and carried incense during mass. Members of the Resurrection Catholic Church have been saying prayers daily for a safe return.

The Rev. Charles Flynn said Zamlen's mother, Sally, told him the search is "not anywhere near over."

Many others from Zamlen's native town Eveleth, Minn. have traveled to the St. Paul area to help in the search.

According to an article by the Pioneer Press, Zamlen is Type 1 diabetes and by this time he will be borderline comatose.

"It's critical that we find Daniel and that we find Daniel quickly," St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington said.

April 6, 2009

Students in Fargo Return to School

Students in Fargo and surrounding areas are looking to return to classrooms beginning next week after their two-week absence.

“I think everybody wants to get back to some sense of normalcy and routine here as quickly as possible,” Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Rick Buresh said Friday to The Inforum.

Some feel that the return may be a brief one. According to the National Weather Service, a prediction that the Red River is 90 percent likely to flood again between April 15-22.

"We want to get back to the rhythms and routines that make life as normal as possible," said Rick Buresh, superintendent of Fargo public schools to The Star Tribune.

The thousands of students varying from elementary to college ages spent most of their time helping the community sandbag due to the flood.

"We would have literally been sunk without them," Buresh said. "We can have great confidence about our future knowing how they distinguished themselves in this."

April 5, 2009

St Thomas Student Last Seen Near River

A St. Thomas student walking near the Mississippi river Sunday morning has gone missing.

18-year-old freshman Dan Zamlen was last heard talking on cell phone to a friend at 3 a.m while walking along along Mississippi River Boulevard near St. Clair Avenue, university authorities reported to The Star Tribune. Zamlen made an exclamation and the phone went dead.

Friends and family of the Eveleth, Minn native are searching the area for clues. A police car is parked nearby a sharp drop where they fear Zamlen may have fallen.

Fox 9 News has announced that anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Zamlen should contact university's Public Safety Department at (651) 962-5555.


March 30, 2009

Red River Flood Level Slowly Drops

The Red River has dropped below 40 feet Sunday for the first time this week.

Many schools, roads and businesses remain closed while the water level is still no where near normal.

According to The Star Tribune, following a record crest of 40.82 feet early Saturday, the Red had fallen to 39.80 feet by Sunday evening with projections of a steady decline all week.

In an interview with Inforumn, the National Weather Service is predicting the river will continue to drop through the week. However, there is a storm system moving into the area that's expected to drop some snow on the Red River Valley.

"Amen. It's a great feeling," said Kyle Norman, a Moorhead resident to The New York Times. "We have said we're going to fight this thing and win, and we did."

March 29, 2009

Brooklyn Park man accused of raping a minor

A Brooklyn Park man has been jailed Thursday for allegedly raping a 16-year-old Milwaukee girl he met online.

Tony Xiong, 35 had been chatting with the 16-year-old online and decided to drive to Milwaukee where he picked her up from her home, returned to his residence in Minneapolis and allegedly raped her three times while holding her against her will.

According to 5 Eyewitness News, the young girl was able to contact her family through the use of Xiong's computer after two days in his custody.

Xiong reported that he knew the child was a minor but he denied both raping and holding the girl against her will.

In a report by The Star Tribune, Xiong has been charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct and false imprisonment. If convicted, he faces up to 18 years in prison, a $35,000 fine, or both.

March 16, 2009

Stillwater inmate petitions to return to Russian homeland inmate from a Stillwater detention center is petitioning to serve his remaining sentence in his native Russia.

Pyotr Shmelev is using an international treaty and the fact that Minnesota will save $32,800 in incarceration costs to argue his case.

Shmelev is said to be serving a 30 year sentence for killing his wife in 2001.

According to The New York Times, Shmelev is one of nearly two dozen foreign nationals in Minnesota prisons whose requests to complete their sentences in their native countries have been denied by the commissioner of corrections.

Critics of the international treaty say that there is no assurance that these criminals will be forced to carry out their sentences once abroad.

"I support the community expectation that violent offenders or serious drug traffickers should serve their entire prison sentence in Minnesota before returning to freedom in their home country," Corrections Commissioner Joan Fabian said.

Two children shot near Fairview Park

Two youths were struck by stray bullets from a shooting near Fairview Park.

A 15-year-old girl was struck in the leg and Truvontee McElroy, 11, was shot in the stomache at Fairview Park near 29th and Lyndale Avenues N. around 5:45 p.m.

In an interview with The Star Tribune, police say McElroy and the girl were standing with a group of 30 to 50 children near a bus stop across the street from the park.

Both children were taken to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.

"This is not fatal, which I think we're very fortunate more people were not injured tonight," says Minneapolis Police spokesman Bill Palmer in an interview with Kare11.

Police do have suspect information, but are not releasing those details at this time or what may have prompted the shooting.

March 9, 2009

Body Discovered at Anoka County Golf Course

A body was discovered Friday at Ham Lake Golf Course in Anoka County.

The body was found frozen around 1 p.m. in a pond about two feet deep by a Majestic Oaks Golf Course groundskeeper.

According to The Pioneer Press, authorities worked for several hours throughout the night to free the body from the ice.

"The body appeared to have been in the water for several months, at least since before the first November freeze,"
Lt. Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff's Office said in an interview with The Star Tribune.

Foul play has also been suspected by Anoka County officials.

A wallet was found on the victim but authorities have refused to release that information until a proper autopsy has been conducted.

The victim appears to be male based on it's clothing.

March 8, 2009

Deaf Woman Injured in Hit and Run

An Apple Valley woman was involved in a hit and run Friday leaving her in critical condition.

Joan LeVassuer, 26, was crossing Cedar Avenue and 153rd Street in Apple Valley when she was struck around 9:15 p.m.

LeVassuer is hard of hearing and was waiting for a ride from her fiance when the accident occurred.

Police describe the suspected vehicle to be large in size with beige coloring. The vehicle made no attempt to stop after LeVassuer was hit.

"There's absolutely no excuse for somebody to be so heartless," said Lori LeVasseur in an interview with The Pioneer Press. "We really hope and pray they will do the right thing and come forward. Joan deserves that — she's a wonderful, wonderful woman."

According to The Star Tribune, LeVasseur suffered severe head trauma, brain injuries and fractures in both her legs and pelvis.

Police are asking that anyone with additional information regarding the incident to please contact local authorities.

March 1, 2009

Nathan Bows Out of WBC

Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan pulls out of the World Baseball Classic Sunday due to a sore arm.

As reported by, Nathan began experiencing discomfort in the AC joint in his right shoulder.

Nathan has decided to stay in training camp where he will be under close supervision of the trainers. He has also been given three days off in order to rest his arm.

"It’s unclear how sore he is. I know better than to speculate on anything right now," said La Velle E. Neil in a story written for The New York Times. "So we’ll let you know as soon as more details are available.

Team USA is scheduled to begin games on March at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada, the home of the Blue Jays.

February 26, 2009

Minneapolis Choir Leader Accused with Sexual Assault

A local Minneapolis choir leader has been accused Tuesday for allegedly sexually assaulting a Brooklyn Park female minor. After reviewing files, it seems the man has been in an similar situation before.

According to The New York Times, Gregory B. Washington, 32, has been held with a $150,000 bail on two counts of third-degree assault and has an order to stay away from all females under the age of 18.

Latest information provided by The New York Times said at the time of assault the unnamed youth was 15-years-old. The first encounter occurred at her home residence followed by a subsequent assault at Washington's residence in Plymouth.

"We're seeing here that the facts are astonishingly similar, in which he leads a young female through the auspices of the church, had sexual relations with the female and eventually had a child with her," Assistant County Attorney Judith Cole said in Hennepin County District Court of Washington's earlier conviction. "It seems to be a pattern for Mr. Washington."

Pregnancies have resulted from both of Washington's underage endeavors.

A follow-up article by The Star Tribune said that there had been no background check on Washington prior to his employment.

"I would have to be honest and say our implementation of [the background check policy] hasn't been perfect," said Margaret Westin, Minneapolis schools' general counsel. "We know this is something we need to work on."

February 23, 2009

Bloomington Daycare Providers Indicted

A Bloomington mother and daughter have been indicted Thursday for the death of a 22-month-old at their daycare center last summer.

The young boy was found strapped in a car seat in the basement of Mama D's daycare center.

According to The Star Tribune, Doris D. Meeks, 48, and Harmony S. Newman, 21, were indicted by a grand jury. Each faces three counts of second-degree manslaughter in connection with child neglect, child endangerment and culpable negligence.

The cause of death as reported by Fox 9 was listed as “anoxic encephalopathy due to mechanical asphyxia from chest compression due to car seat straps."

The daycare was licensed for 14 children and on the day of the incident there were 24 present.

February 22, 2009

Retired Officer Injured by Stray Bullet

A 61-year-old retired police officer was injured Saturday at the Minneapolis Gun Show when an off-duty cop's pistol misfired.

According to Sgt. Jesse Garcia in an interview with The Star Tribune, both men were working security at the show when the off-duty officer's holster caught on the chair which prompted the weapon to fire.

The bullet hit the floor causing fragments to bounce up and hit the retiree in both the hand and left leg.

As reported by 5 Witness News, the gun has been sent to the range to check for mechanical malfuntions.

“It’s a very freak accident,” Garcia said. “We’re fortunate no one was seriously hurt.”

No disciplinary action is being taken against the officer due to accidental circumstances.

February 15, 2009

Woman Lured to Her Death by Ex-Boyfriend

A 24-year-old woman was found dead along with her 23-year-old ex boyfriend after a fire had burned down the man's apartment.

Brittany Givens-Copeland was said by The Star Tribune to have received a message stating that she was to stop by her attackers Burnsville apartment in order to say good-bye to ex-boyfriend Adam Williams.

Police suspect that neckties were used to strangle single-mother Givens-Copeland.

According to Individual News, Williams proceeded to light his apartment on fire and was found dead from suspected smoke inhalation next to the bathroom door.

Either other units were damaged due to the fire and four families are currently displaced.

Man Found Dead on Train Tracks in St. Paul

A 33-year-old man was found dead late Saturday on a rail road in St. Paul.

The man's body lying on a set of tracks in the area of Bush Avenue and Burr Street, St. Paul police Cmdr. Kevin Casper said in an interview with The Pioneer Press.

A Union Pacific railroad worker was passing by when he discovered the body. It was apart he had been struck by the train.

It was not know when he was hit, said Casper.

According to The Star Tribune, police believe the man had either fell asleep or passed out on the tracks.

The victims name has not been released.

February 9, 2009

Police Officers Fail Integrity Test

Two former Ramsey County police officers have been found guilty and sentenced to three year prison sentences Friday for montetary theft, set-up by a sting operation.

Naylon and Timothy Rehak, 48, claim their actions were part of a practical joke.

"This isn't about the money. It's never been about the money," U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz said in an interview with The Pioneer Press. "What this is about is an egregious, shameful betrayal of the trust placed in you. You weren't some junkie who stole copper pipes out of a federal building. You were a police officer."

According to an article written by The Star Tribune, the men were caught on video tape find a large duffel bag filled with bills and which progressed to one of the men stuffing money into his coat.

Both men were allowed to speak before their sentencing, however, both declined. The men were given the harshest federal sentences allowed for their crimes.

February 5, 2009

$1.7 Million Settlement in Clery Abuse Trials

According to The Star Tribune, nine clergy abuse settlements have been reached Wednesday with the help of a St. Paul attorney.

Jeff Anderson has defended victims of Roman Catholic clergy abuse for many years and has agreed upon a $1.7 million settlement for nine of his clients.

Part of the agreed upon terms include the disclosure of abusers names as well as credible allegations, documents regarding the abusers and revealed prevention steps.

Mark Mallinger filed a complaint in Ramsey County District Court in 2006 saying he was abused from the ages of 9 to 14 at the Onamia, Minn., seminary in the 1970s.

In an interview with The Star Tribune, Mallinger said, "I know classmates were abused, and I know people suffered in silence and shame."

Thomas R. Carkhuff, the head of the Crosiers in the United States, said in a statement, "We are deeply sorry for these wrongs that were committed in the past by some Crosiers and for the pain that this abuse has caused these men and their families."

According to The Los Angeles Times in 2007, $1.7 million is the average payout to alleged victims.

February 2, 2009

Mavericks Sweep Gophers During Weekend Series

The Minnesota Gophers have lost an entire series this weekend against the Mankato Mavericks. According to The Star Tribune, this is the first time the Marvericks have sweep the Gophers in mens hockey since they began in 1997.

Minnesota lost 2-6 on Friday night as well as 1-3 Saturday. Many attribute the loses to multiply player penalties.

"Obviously, losing those two guys in the second period really hurt us," Gophers forward Ryan Flynn tells The Pioneer Press.

Although the Gophers were earning more penalties than shots on the goal, coach Tony Lucia said "It wasn't the result we wanted," he said, "but I have no issue with how hard the kids played tonight."

January 29, 2009

Case of Molotov Cocktails at RNC May be Brought to Jury

A man charged with creating molotov cocktails to use during protests in St. Pauls Republican National Conference said Thursday that the incident was not his idea.

David McKay, 22 alleges that former activist Brandon Darby was the motivation behind his actions.

According to The Star Tribune, McKay said "Brandon Darby created the idea that we, as an affinity group, create multiple Molotov cocktails."

The new statement is said to conflict with several prior comments made by McKay while in custody. Brandon Darby, a current FBI informant denies any involvement regarding McKays decision to create the cocktails.

The New York Times reports that McKay has already been charged with three counts of making and possessing unregistered weapons. The case is now being decided by a jury.